Ronald Davidson, former director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, pioneering physicist, author, and professor passes away

(Photo by Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications) Ronald C.Davidson

(Photo by Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications)
Ronald C.Davidson

Ronald C. Davidson, a pioneering plasma physicist for 50 years who directed the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) during a crucial period of its history and was a founding director of the Plasma Fusion Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), passed away on May 19. He was 74. Read more

25. May 2016 by Christopher Cane
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Energy Secretary Moniz Launches the Nation’s Newest Fusion Experiment at PPPL

(Photo by Denise Applewhite/Princeton University) U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, center, in the NSTX-U test cell. From left: PPPL physicist Stefan Gerhardt; Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber; Princeton University Vice President for PPPL David McComas; Moniz; U.S. Senator Cory Booker; U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman; PPPL Director Stewart Prager.

(Photo by Denise Applewhite/Princeton University)
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, center, in the NSTX-U test cell. From left: PPPL physicist Stefan Gerhardt; Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber; Princeton University Vice President for PPPL David McComas; Moniz; U.S. Senator Cory Booker; U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman; PPPL Director Stewart Prager.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz dedicated the most powerful spherical torus fusion facility in the world on Friday, May 20, 2016. The $94-million upgrade to the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX-U), funded by the DOE Office of Science, is a spherical tokamak fusion device that explores the creation of high-performance plasmas at 100-million degree temperatures many times hotter than the core of the sun. Read more

23. May 2016 by Christopher Cane
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A major upgrade of the Lithium Tokamak Experiment at PPPL will explore liquid lithium as a first wall for hot plasmas

(Photo by Elle Starkman/Office of Communications) View of the interior of the LTX prior to the upgrade.

(Photo by Elle Starkman/Office of Communications)
View of the interior of the LTX prior to the upgrade.

A promising experiment that encloses hot, magnetically confined plasma in a full wall of liquid lithium is undergoing a $2 million upgrade at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). Engineers are installing a powerful neutral beam injector in the laboratory’s Lithium Tokamak Experiment (LTX), an innovative device used to test the liquid metal as a first wall that enhances plasma performance.  Read more

11. May 2016 by Christopher Cane
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Scientists challenge conventional wisdom to improve predictions of the bootstrap current at the edge of fusion plasmas

Simulation shows trapped electrons at left and passing electron at right that are carried in the bootstrap current of a tokamak. Credit: Kwan Liu-Ma, University of California, Davis.

Simulation shows trapped electrons at left and passing electron at right that are carried in the bootstrap current of a tokamak. Credit: Kwan Liu-Ma, University of California, Davis.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have challenged understanding of a key element in fusion plasmas. At issue has been an accurate prediction of the size of the “bootstrap current” — a self-generating electric current — and an understanding of what carries the current at the edge of plasmas in doughnut-shaped facilities called tokamaks. This bootstrap-generated current combines with the current in the core of the plasma to produce a magnetic field to hold the hot gas together during experiments, and can produce stability at the edge of the plasma. Read more

04. May 2016 by Christopher Cane
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Stewart Prager, PPPL Director, Testifies Before U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy

(Photo by Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications) Stewart Prager

(Photo by Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications)
Stewart Prager

Written Testimony of Stewart Prager, Director, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Professor of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University
Delivered to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy For the hearing on April 20, 2016 Read more

25. April 2016 by Christopher Cane
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Princeton graduate student Imène Goumiri creates computer program that helps stabilize fusion plasmas

(Photo by Elle Starkman/Office of Communications) Imène Goumiri led the design of a controller.

(Photo by Elle Starkman/Office of Communications)
Imène Goumiri led the design of a controller.

Imène Goumiri, a Princeton University graduate student, has worked with physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) to simulate a method for limiting instabilities that reduce the performance of fusion plasmas. The more instabilities there are, the less efficiently doughnut-shaped fusion facilities called tokamaks operate. The journal Nuclear Fusion published results of this research in February 2016. The research was supported by the DOE’s Office of Science. Read more

21. April 2016 by Christopher Cane
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PPPL scientists help test innovative device to improve efficiency of tokamaks

(Photo by J.S. Hu ) Photo of white-hot limiter glowing in contact with the plasma during an EAST discharge.

(Photo by J.S. Hu )
Photo of white-hot limiter glowing in contact with the plasma during an EAST discharge.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have helped design and test a component that could improve the performance of doughnut-shaped fusion facilities known as tokamaks. Called a “liquid lithium limiter,” the device has circulated the protective liquid metal within the walls of China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) and kept the plasma from cooling down and halting fusion reactions. The journal Nuclear Fusion published results of the experiment in March 2016. The research was supported by the DOE Office of Science. Read more

12. April 2016 by Christopher Cane
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Physicist Tyler Abrams models lithium erosion in tokamaks

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(Photo by Tyler Abrams) Physicist Tyler Abrams

The world of fusion energy is a world of extremes. For instance, the center of the ultrahot plasma contained within the walls of doughnut-shaped fusion machines known as tokamaks can reach temperatures well above the 15 million degrees Celsius core of the sun. And even though the portion of the plasma closer to the tokamak’s inner walls is 10 to 20 times cooler, it still has enough energy to erode the layer of liquid lithium that may be used to coat components that face the plasma in future tokamaks. Scientists thus seek to know how to prevent hot plasma particles from eroding the protective lithium coating. Read more

05. April 2016 by Christopher Cane
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PPPL engineers design and build state-of-the-art controller for AC to DC converter that manages plasma in upgraded fusion machine

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PPPL scientists Robert Mozulay and Weiguo Que

The electric current that powers fusion experiments requires superb control. Without it, the magnetic coils the current drives cannot contain and shape the plasma that fuels experiments in doughnut-shaped tokamaks correctly. Read more

10. March 2016 by Christopher Cane
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Plasma 101

10 Facts You Should Know About Plasma

The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) (Photo by Philippe Moussette for Nasa.gov)

The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) (Photo by Philippe Moussette for Nasa.gov)

  1. It’s the fourth state of matter: Solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Plasma is a super-heated gas, so hot that its electrons get out of the atom’s orbit and roam free. A gas thus becomes a plasma when extreme heat causes its atoms to shed their electrons. Read more

01. March 2016 by Christopher Cane
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